2018 Toyota Tacoma

2018 Toyota Tacoma Review

The adventure-ready 2018 Toyota Tacoma is a midsize pickup truck with baked-in off-road capability.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

If excellent utility and off-road ability are priorities for your next vehicle, the 2018 Toyota Tacoma should be high on your list. The wealth of available configurations means there's likely a Tacoma that fits your needs, and some of them provide an impressive degree of trail-busting capability.

Alongside those specialized off-road Tacomas with their knobby tires, upgraded suspension and off-road driving aids, there are street-oriented versions of the Tacoma, too. Notably, even the more luxurious trim levels share their siblings' lifted stance. It creates a high step-in height and a slightly unusual seating position, but it also means every Tacoma is at least a little adventure-ready.

The Tacoma has some notable competition. The Honda Ridgeline lacks the Tacoma's rugged look, but it offers all the practicality of a pickup plus innovative storage options, a more carlike ride quality and a roomier interior. There's also the Chevrolet Colorado, which feels like a slightly scaled-down Chevy Silverado full-size truck in many respects and has a superior engine lineup. Overall, though, we think the Tacoma hits the spot for what most midsize pickup shoppers are looking for.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Toyota Tacoma as one of Edmunds' Best Midsize Trucks for this year.



what's new

For 2018, all Tacomas gain Toyota Safety Sense P. This suite of safety features includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. The rest of the Tacoma is unchanged, though Toyota has discontinued the five-speed manual transmission for the four-cylinder engine.

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If we were putting down our own money for an off-road-capable small truck, we'd opt for the TRD Off-Road V6 4WD. It provides an impressive amount of capability without the sticker shock. The cabin is equipped with enough creature comforts (heated seats, a 7-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a sunroof) to make it an acceptable companion for a daily commute.




trim levels & features

The Tacoma is available in six trim levels. The entry-level SR is the work truck of the bunch, with the value-oriented SR5 offering more equipment and more choices. Next up are the very popular and well-equipped TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road variants. The two are identical on the inside, but hardware differences make the TRD Off-Road more capable when the going gets rocky. The more street-oriented Limited used to be the top dog, but that honor now belongs to the TRD Pro, a highly capable and fully equipped off-road machine.

Bare-bones isn't quite the right way to describe the low-dollar SR, the most modestly equipped Tacoma of the lot. Even so, it can be had with an extended cab with a 6.1-foot bed or a crew cab with a 5-foot bed, and you can choose between two-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case. Its 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with 159 horsepower is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. For 2018, all trim levels including the SR gain forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control as standard equipment.

The SR is most easily identified by its dark grille and 16-inch steel wheels. But even this basic Tacoma comes with a sliding rear window, a tough composite bed that needs no bedliner, a movable cleat tie-down system, and a backup camera fitted in the tailgate release handle. Inside, the four-way-adjustable cloth seats have driver-side lumbar adjustment, and the steering wheel tilts, telescopes, and has control buttons that work with the basic Entune stereo, which supports Bluetooth and has a USB interface.

For most buyers, the SR5 is the better deal. In addition to the previous configurations mentioned, you can also get a long-wheelbase version that pairs the crew cab with the 6.1-foot bed. Outwardly, the SR5 gains a chrome rear bumper and a flash of chrome on its charcoal-colored grille. It's got foglights set into its front bumper, and the 16-inch steel wheels can be upgraded to alloys. Remote keyless entry becomes standard, its steering wheel is wrapped in leather, and the sliding rear window uses privacy glass. There's a 4.2-inch information screen between the gauges, and the enhanced Entune audio system supports satellite radio, smartphone-enabled navigation via the Scout GPS app, and Siri Eyes Free voice control.

Next up is the TRD Sport. It is offered in the same cab and bed configurations as the SR5, but it replaces the four-cylinder engine with a 278-hp 3.5-liter V6. All rear-wheel-drive versions use the six-speed automatic, but four-wheel-drive buyers can choose between the automatic and a performance-oriented six-speed manual.

It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, body-colored fender flares and rear bumper, turn signals in the mirror housings and, everyone's favorite, a hood scoop. There's a 400-watt power outlet in the bed, and the crew cab's sliding rear window is power-actuated. Automatic transmission-equipped trucks gain smart entry and push-button start, and all TRD Sports make the jump to full navigation via the Entune premium audio system's 7-inch touchscreen.

The TRD Off-Road offers the same configuration and engine options as the TRD Sport, and its truck bed and interior and audio trimmings are identical. Visual differences include a chrome rear bumper, textured black fender flares and the absence of the Sport's hood scoop. Off-road performance changes loom large in this trim, and these include knobby all-terrain tires on 16-inch alloy wheels, the deletion of the front air dam, extra skid plates, a lockable rear differential, Bilstein monotube shocks, and an advanced off-road traction control system with multiple terrain settings and crawl control.

Both the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road crew-cab models can be upgraded with a few option packages. Feature highlights include a sunroof, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, leather upholstery, and a JBL speaker upgrade and a subwoofer. It's worth noting that the stereo upgrade is not available on models with the manual transmission.

The Limited is the most civilized version of the Tacoma. It is only offered as a V6-powered crew cab with the short bed in either two- or four-wheel drive. It has body-colored flares and rear bumper, and it rolls on 18-inch wheels with lower-profile tires. It lacks the TRD Off-Road's specialized off-road upgrades and is instead upgraded with just about all of the Off-Road and Sport's optional features as standard equipment.

The TRD Pro is sold only as a crew cab with a short bed, and it comes only in four-wheel drive. The V6 engine is standard, but you can choose between the manual and the automatic transmission. It's equipped like a loaded-up TRD Off-Road but sets itself apart with special styling details, including a black throwback grille with "Toyota" spelled out in capital letters. Most notably, it has special Fox internal bypass shocks that give it more off-road capability as well as a tougher stance that's an inch broader and an inch taller.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Crew Cab (3.5L V6 | 6-speed automatic | 4WD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Toyota Tacoma has received some minor equipment revisions. Our findings are broadly applicable to this year's Toyota Tacoma, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration3.0 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering4.5 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0
Climate control4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Driving position3.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.5 / 5.0
Visibility4.5 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

4.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage4.0 / 5.0
Cargo space4.5 / 5.0

Technology

3.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation4.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration3.0 / 5.0
Voice control4.5 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The Tacoma steers and handles with quiet confidence on the road, but the V6 engine and its automatic transmission don't always respond quickly to inputs. All 4WD Tacomas benefit from Toyota's off-road design emphasis, but the TRD Off-Road is particularly capable when the pavement ends.

Acceleration

edmunds rating
The 3.5-liter V6 is preferable to the four-cylinder, but it is otherwise unremarkable. Our test truck accelerated to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is adequate for its intended mission but not class-leading. Low-rpm power is unimpressive.

Braking

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Dependable stops are straight and true. In a panic the Tacoma will stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is good considering the soft off-road tires. But in typical driving, the brakes tend toward touchy and overeager, making it hard to execute smooth stops.

Steering

edmunds rating
The Tacoma's steering always comes across as predictable and reassuring, with smooth and progressive effort as you guide it through corners. And it feels steady and connected when cruising straight, too. The chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel feels solid in your hands.

Handling

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Body roll is gradual and restrained, and the Tacoma imparts a good sense of overall competence and coordination on the sorts of winding roads you inevitably need to traverse on the way to the campground, ski lodge or trailhead. It feels equally secure and sure-footed out on the trail, too.

Drivability

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The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly, but fuel-efficiency-biased programming makes it reluctant to downshift. There is an ECT Power button that alters the shift points for more immediate response, but it must be reselected every time you restart the truck. A six-speed manual is available.

Off-road

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All 4WD versions of the Tacoma do very well, but the TRD Off-Road has the suspension, tires and abundant clearance to go places other pickups, including other volume-selling midsize truck models, cannot. The locking differential, terrain select and crawl control systems are real advantages.

Comfort

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The Tacoma has an agreeable ride quality, and the seats are accommodating. But the high floor tends to make tall drivers wish for more adjustability.

Seat comfort

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The seats feel comfortable and supportive even though their adjustments are quite simple. Very tall drivers might wish for more thigh support because of the unusual driving position.

Ride comfort

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The ride is notably smoother and less busy than in past Tacomas. Bilstein shocks and tall sidewalls of the 16-inch tires are adept at filtering out small road flaws, better in some circumstances than the Limited's 18-inch tires. Still, any blindfolded passenger will know this is a pickup.

Noise & vibration

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The cabin is average for wind and road noise at highway speeds. Mechanical engine noise is nicely muted. It's not hushed like a sedan, but it's nevertheless a pleasant place to pass the miles.

Climate control

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The standard system is very straightforward and easy to operate, with prominent controls that need no explanation. The airflow is good through the nice-size vents. An automatic climate control system is available as an option.

Interior

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The interior is nicely laid out, with easily understood and effective controls. The cabin has plenty of space up front, but tall folks might disagree. The biggest shortcomings are the relatively tall step up to the cab and an odd driving position.

Ease of use

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All switchgear is exceptionally easy to reach, understand and use, and that includes the automatic climate control, the 4WD selector switch, the crawl control system and the multiterrain selector.

Getting in/getting out

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The Tacoma has a high cabin floor that is an outgrowth of its off-road design philosophy, which demands generous ground clearance. This makes step-in notably higher than in trucks such as the Colorado and Ridgeline.

Driving position

edmunds rating
The Tacoma's high floor produces a legs-out driving posture that's more like being in a car than you'd expect. Taller drivers tend to notice this because the telescoping steering wheel doesn't have enough adjustment range, forcing them to scoot closer with knees bent more than they would otherwise.

Roominess

edmunds rating
There's plenty of personal space in the Tacoma, but the front headroom isn't generous. You've got to be taller than average to notice, and if that is the case you might want to think twice about that sunroof. The crew cab's back seat isn't as roomy as rivals'.

Visibility

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There's a clear view out in all directions, and the high seating position makes it easy to spot the front corners. The crew cab's rear windows are large, and the mirrors are a good size. The standard backup camera is a further plus.

Quality

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The attractive interior features solid materials and construction. Numerous trips off-road failed to reveal any squeaks or rattles.

Utility

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The Tacoma's composite bed has lots of smart cargo management features, and there's a decent number of places for items in and around the cab. Its tow rating isn't quite class-leading, but it isn't far off the mark. Child seat fitment in the crew cab favors forward-facing seats and boosters.

Small-item storage

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Four cupholders reside between the front seats, and they can also hold small items. The shelf ahead of them is meant for phones, and in some trims it's a wireless charging pad. Glovebox, center console box and door pockets are decent-size. The rear seatbacks fold forward to reveal concealed bins.

Cargo space

edmunds rating
The crew cab's rear seats fold to create a flat platform that can hold more cargo than a Colorado. Standard composite bed needs no bedliner and has rails with movable tie-down cleats, a power outlet, LED lighting and storage bins. Removable tailgate is damped so it won't slam when dropped open.

Child safety seat accommodation

edmunds rating
The crew cab has two pairs of LATCH lower anchors and a trio of upper tethers. The former are recessed between the cushions, and the latter must be accessed by folding the rear seatback forward, which is a bit of a pain. Bulky rear-facing seats force the corresponding front seat to be slid forward.

Towing

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A 4WD V6 Tacoma can tow as much as 6,800 pounds, which is a solid number for a midsize truck. The standard tow package includes hitch, wiring, extra cooling, a bigger alternator and trailer sway control.

Technology

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We generally like the touchscreen audio system because it has large virtual buttons and employs knobs for volume and tuning chores. Supports smartphones with a proprietary Entune app instead of the more universal Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lags behind Honda Ridgeline in advanced driver aids.

Audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The touchscreen audio and navigation system is easier to use than many competing systems because it has simple volume and tune knobs (though they could be larger). The graphics are clear, and there isn't much glare. Sound quality is respectable from the base sound system.

Smartphone integration

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Bluetooth pairing is simple, but the USB-based smartphone interface requires you to install the Entune app on your phone to use some features. But the app is clunky to use and locks the phone for other purposes — even if it's the passenger's phone. The cabin contains just one USB jack.

Voice control

edmunds rating
Models equipped with the touchscreen audio system such as our TRD Off-Road include navigation, phone and audio voice controls that do a reasonable job. Those with a paired Apple iPhone can press and hold the voice button longer to engage certain commands using the more sophisticated Siri interface.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.